Letter: Cuts in British knowledge

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The Independent Online
Sir: The Government's planned cuts in the funding of higher education have been curiously absent from the election debate so far. With a 30 per cent participation rate, a good proportion of families in the country are involved, so there should be an awareness of the prospects for those who would like their children to have proper educational opportunities when they reach 18.

When ministers are asked about the cuts, they usually recite: "It is perfectly reasonable for a public service to find efficiency gains of 3 per cent per year." What this government is planning for is a progressively less well supported knowledge base for this country. This they term an "efficiency gain".

Parents with 13-year-old children must expect that under current plans higher education will be worse off in five years' time by at least 15 per cent, and that this will mean larger classes, fewer current books in the libraries, worse access to computer and laboratories facilities, and so on. These difficulties for students will be exacerbated by the pressure exerted by funding models in which anything except a narrowly defined high performance in research will be rewarded by severe cuts.

Professor RONALD BROWN

School of Mathematics

University of Wales

Bangor

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